drum-and-shaft

Definition

Theater

  • An early system for moving scenery, widely used in the Renaissanceand Baroque theater. Articles of scenery were attached by ropes toa shaft that could be rotated either by a lever or, for a steadiereffect, another rope wound around a barrel attached to the end ofthe shaft (hence the mechanism's alternative name, the barrelsystem). In this way, several pieces of scenery could be movedsimultaneously. Articles of scenery could also be made to move atdifferent speeds by attaching drums of different diameters to theshaft and winding the ropes from the scenery around these insteadof the shaft itself. The system was gradually superseded by more sophisticatedequipment capable of moving several articles of scenery independentlyof each other.
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